There are some amazing tools available today to help you create and edit your work — if you know where to look. In this two-part series we will gather some of the best of the many choices for your review.
D. Offer writes for Write4Kids. Offer manages the popular Facebook emoticons and Facebook smiley website Emoinstaller.com. Emoinstaller can add hundreds of additional Facebook chat emoticons into your Facebook account in just a few clicks.
Word Processing Software
There are still writers who use electric typewriters and even pen-and-paper, but today the word processor has become the norm for most writers. A good word processing program is the first, best tool in the writer’s toolbox, and fortunately there are some great alternatives available. The flexibility and productivity that a word processing program can bring to editing and revising your work is a nothing short of amazing, making it a must-have app for any writer who is serious about their work.
Microsoft Word (Windows / Mac) $102 to $120
Still the most popular word processing software on the market since it stole first place from Word Perfect way back in the 1990’s, Microsoft Word is clearly one of the best word processing programs available. Word offers some amazing tools that go way past simple word processing, including the ability to manage longer documents, apply styles and themes to your work, and is even capable of creating a self-updating Table of Contents and a detailed Index.
For most writers, however, most of the features are over-kill and are not really needed. Your publisher doesn’t need you to submit with the degree of formatting that is available in Word, in fact most discourage the practice. Also there is the problem of the price. The standalone version of Word is going for about $102 while you can pick up a copy of the Microsoft Office Home & Students edition for about $120 if you do a little shopping. The Home & Students edition includes the popular Microsoft programs Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote (we’ll talk about OneNote later), and if you have a use for them the package deal offers more bang for the buck.
You can also test drive the suite for free if you want to see if you think it’s worth the money through the Office website. We’ve included it here because despite the cost, no list of word processing programs would be complete without an entry for Word.
LibreOffice (Windows / Mac / Linux) Free
LibreOffice Writer is a free, open-source Office application that offers an entire suite of productivity programs designed to compete directly with Microsoft Office. Just like the Professional version of Office, LibreOffice offers programs that can handle word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, etc.
Writer, the word processor that comes with LibreOffice, is a full-featured program that offers almost everything a writer could want in a word processor. It does take slightly longer to load than maybe we’d like, but if you’re looking for an alternative to Microsoft Office without spending your hard-earned money, then Writer is an excellent choice.
FocusWriter (Windows/Mac/Linux) Free
One of the problems many writers have with programs like Word and Writer is that they are cluttered with features that are completely unnecessary. In response, the developers of FocusWriter have developed a distraction-free, word processing program that lets you stay focused on the writing. They do, however, provide you with the core set of features most writers will find handy.
You can set FocusWriter to fill your whole screen so that only thing you can see is the page, with options to change the appearance to one that works for you. The features it does offer have been developed with the writer in mind. You can open a number of documents at once utilizing a tabbed interface that makes the documents available without cluttering up your screen.
One feature unique to FocusWriter is the ability to set and track a daily goal for how much writing you want to accomplish each day. You can define your goal in terms of time spent writing or word count, depending on which works best for you, and FocusWriter will track your progress for you. It works even when you spread your writing out over the course of an entire day, and the software saves your results so you can review your progress against your goal at any time.
Second runner up to the Daily Goal tool in terms of its overall coolness is the ability to add typewriter sounds that give the user the illusion that they are working on an old Royal typewriter, complete with the familiar ding as you pounded each key as well as that wonderful sound that marked each time you hit enter to return the ribbon at the end of each line. The sound-effects are so amazingly realistic that you’ll have a hard time remembering you’re not using a real typewriter. It adds no real value, but it is fun to use.
DropBox (Windows/Mac/Linux) Free
One way to make sure you have copies of your work for years to come is to make you have a place to back-up your documents, and DropBox is a great cloud-based solution for document storage. A free download installs a DropBox folder that you can access just like any other folder. The DropBox folder is then synced with your DropBox account on the web and your files are stored on the DropBox servers. The free account gets you 2GB worth of document storage with more available for lease each month.
The app is so popular blogs are posting new ways to use DropBox to trick out your desktop, and there is a music player under development. A website login also lets you access your files from anywhere with an internet connection, meaning you can write anywhere without missing a beat.
Internet-based companies continue to appear by the dozens, and many of them are offering excellent tools and apps that can help you create, and edit your work. We’ll continue to keep our eye out for the best, and report back soon.